Sunday, February 2, 2014

A New Marina

Last weekend they had a grand opening at a new Marina on Stock Island. Cheyenne's sudden illness prevented us going with friends on Saturday but we went Sunday afternoon after we went yo see a matinee of Gravity, an astonishing 3D movie showing at the Tropic Cinema. The movie was well worth it, the Marina less so.

The new Stock Island Village Marina had a grand opening last week with flyers everywhere exuding enthusiasm for a wonderful new nautical community that is coming into being on a Shrimp Road. By the time we got there Sunday afternoon the festivities were packing up and the Marina seemed yo be fully functional already.

Not all slips are filled but quite a few are. Stock Island Marina Village sells itself as cool hip and youthful.

It has floating docks and all manner of amenities, a dog walk, a gym (closed to the public on the grand opening) stores, tons of parking picnic tables and so forth. All that a modern marina resident might want except perhaps a swimming pool?

Stock Island Marina Village | Key West & Florida Keys Deep Water Marina is a place where everyone knows your name which doesn't seem like much of a thing to someone like me who likes his privacy...

I suppose it can only be a good thing to see more recreational slips opening up especially as this Marina is interested in liveaboards and visitors but I am surprised they see a large enough market to support yet another facility on. Stock Island. All to the good I suppose!


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Vandals On Big Pine

It was just another glorious winter morning in the Big Pine key wilderness of the Key Deer Refuge.
The new full color signs are a welcome improvement in my opinion as they highlight what to see along the Jack Watson Trail. A controlled burn got out of control and crisped a hundred actress of scrub including some near the trail and as a result the rangers out in new more informative signs. Key West Diary: Burnt Pine
I really like the trail, a circular meander that takes less than an hour on a nicely manicured gravel path. Which was not very well manicured last week.
Instead bushes and trees were toppled and the trail was gouged. I could hardly believe my eyes...
...but the tire tracks were clear as was the presence of empty beer bottles and this peculiar item of clothing:
The hat not the shoes I mean. I doubt any real Rotarians would come out in their ATVs and deface a footpath in an act of deliberate drunken stupidity and disrespect.
I really like this trail, it's an easy walk, it's peaceful, and it's usually empty. Cheyenne only likes to walk it in winter when it's cool but I guess winter is also the season when the idiots come out.
Tearing up the trail just isn't cool.
And leaving tire tracks sucks. I clean up after my dog and take only pictures.
What's wrong with these people?

I hope the rangers won't go ballistic when they see what's been done to their beautifully refurbished trail. I wouldn't blame them for closing it for a while just to give the assholes time to go home where they can plot to wreck their own pine barrens thank you. I hope we can pretend nothing happened and keep on going. At least none of the new signs were damaged. And the Key Deer are still there:
Cheyenne was resting comfortably and as usual didn't notice lunch on the hoof tip toeing by. Vandals or not the Jack Watson Trail is a great place to go for a stroll of a winter's morning.

Friday, January 31, 2014

The Real State Of The Union

By Hugh, who is a long-time commenter at Naked Capitalism. Originally posted at Corrente, and then posted at Naked Capitalism where I found it.

The state of the Union is crap. 20% of the country is doing OK. 1% is doing fantastically. 0.001% is doing so well it’s criminal, literally. They don’t own everything yet but they do own the politicians, judges, regulators, academics, and reporters. So they’re getting there. The other 80%, the rubes, the muppets, the serfs, are mired in an undeclared, ongoing depression.

50 years on I can safely state that the War on Poverty has been won. The poor have been defeated, the middle class conquered. They just don’t know it. Many sense that something is wrong, even drastically wrong, but few realize they have been totally and thoroughly betrayed by those they trusted with the governance of the country and themselves. They cannot admit –they have been admirably taught not to admit — even the possibility of the class war waged against them and which they have definitely and definitively lost.

They continue to look to those who did this to them to fix things and make them better. They may grumble but there is no hint of real opposition or organized rebellion. Theirs is a Union of misery, lost hopes, lesser lives. The Union of the rich and elites is triumphant. So we have two states of the Union because we have two Unions, one of the many and one of the few, the haves and have-nots, the winners and the losers. We have one Union based on reality and hard work and another which feeds off it.

For most Americans, their wages minus inflation have stayed flat every day of their working lives, that is for the last 35 years. College is no longer a passport to a better life but a trap of lifelong debt. Hard work avails nothing as millions of American jobs have been sent abroad in “free” trade agreements. These agreements are not free for those who lost their jobs. And they make all of us among the many poorer because it has all become not about how hard you work but how cheaply.

The meltdown of 5 years ago destroyed much of the wealth of the middle class and virtually all the wealth of the lower classes. But those who drove the economy over the cliff in 2008, the rich, have come roaring back. They have made back the money they lost and more as the government and Fed have thrown trillions at them and encouraged them to blow new and bigger speculative bubbles. Stock markets are at or near historic highs. Statistics have been bent and twisted until they scream. As a consequence, GDP is up. Unemployment is down. Life is good. The numbers prove it. So suck it up, ignore reality, and stop complaining. After 3 years in preparation, Obamacare entered with a pratfall launch which embodied everything about what the program was, corporatism, and what it wasn’t, healthcare.

Class war demands distraction and nothing focuses the mind in the wrong place than war. It has become the central metaphor of our lives. Some of these wars are shams. Some are real. All are terribly destructive. There is the War on Drugs which has put millions of Americans behind bars and turned Mexico into a narco-state, even as the banks which knowingly laundered hundreds of billions in drug cartel profits escape with no one doing jail time and nothing more than some “cost of doing business” fines. Meanwhile the federal government fights a rearguard action as states move to legalize marijuana because, despite its best efforts, no one really cares.

There is the War on Terror with its endless, pointless mini-wars and drone strikes. It is the epitome of self-licking ice cream cones, producing more terrorists and anti-Americanism than it eradicates. On top of this, it has garnered some of the most dubious, “with friends like these who needs enemies” allies imaginable in the form of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. There are the traditional wars. After nearly 8 years in Iraq and every effort made to stay longer, that country remains on the same verge of civil war as when we left.

The war in Afghanistan is lost but, unfortunately, not over. Afghanistan is one of those places where an imperial war, part of the War on Terror, effectively trumped the War on Drugs and snuffed out any mention, or action to change, the fact that Afghanistan has been throughout the American occupation the largest producer of opium and heroin in the world. There is, again, the class war and the war against the middle class. An important theatre in this war is the war against the rule of law and the Constitution.


In our two Unions, the two Americas, there are two rules of law. The rule of law for the rich is that the rule of law does not apply to them. Barack Obama and Eric Holder have investigated no one, prosecuted no one, and sent to prison no one for nearly destroying the economy 6 years ago or for any of their economic crimes since. Jamie Dimon not only isn’t in prison, he’s still head of JPMorgan, and just got a multi-million dollar raise. Financial terrorism is infinitely more destructive than al Qaeda, infinitely better paying, and can be practiced with impunity.

As for ordinary Americans, they face a militarized police and a Dickensian legal system. At the same time, we are seeing our Constitutional rights bulldozed in the construction of a surveillance state, a euphemism for a police state. This is a state, totalitarian in its nature and ambitions, which, on the one hand, operates in the greatest secrecy with zero public accountability and makes war on anyone who seeks to expose its workings and, on the other, tells us we have nothing to worry about if we have nothing to hide. It targets us yet tells us we are not its targets.

This state, or rather those who control it, can know everything about us, but we can know nothing about it or them. Its justification is that it is only after the bad guys, but this state with all its vast spying programs and resources has never actually caught any “bad guys”, certainly none to justify its enormous budgets and unchecked powers. The wealth and the health of this country is based on the people. The value of the dollar is not based on gold or the ability to tax but on us. Yet we have been looted for decades by predatory elites and the rich. Our lives are made poorer, shorter, more pain- and anxiety-filled by them. And our country is made weaker. Education through debt and lack of opportunity is discouraged.

Skills are thrown away as jobs are shipped abroad. On-the-job training has become a dirty word. We are being hollowed out both as a country and a people. Our state is this: We have a cancer. It is feeding on us. It is killing us. Our cancer tells us that without it, we cannot survive. The truth is we have no hope of survival, indeed no hope of anything, unless we cut it out. Liberal, conservative, or indifferent, Tea Party, progressive, or independent, this is the choice we are all faced with, not just for ourselves but each other. If we are to act and if we are to be successful, then we must act together.

That is where we are.

The choice is yours.


A Little Nook Above Duval Street

My wife got it into her head to explore a new-to-her spot off Duval Street. We went for a snack after a movie and we had the place to ourselves, it not yet being happy hour or anything.

There is, it turns out, a terrace in the Pegasus Hotel at the corner of Southard and Duval Streets and you can get a beer and a plate of Indian food under the stars, or under the sun in our case. And it was warm so some shade would have been nice.

We ordered garbanzo wraps and tandoori wings from the cheerful though uncommunicative Eastern European bar tender and we took a seat, in the sun.

Refreshments took the sting out of the heat. At three dollars a bottle I was trying to figure out how cheap the Indian beers would be later in the day.

We sat and watched the world go by below us. It's Duval Street from a different perspective.

And then there's the roofline. Now the bar at The Top has gone this place is the next best perch I suppose.

There in the distance you can see the La Concha Hotel and that cube at the top was where a The Top used to be located, replaced they say by a spa. Key West Diary: The Top

Our food arrived. On the left the garbanzo wraps and on the tight the wings wrapped in tin foil.

We also got a cup of cilantro flavored dressing with the food and I added it to the samosa I also ordered.

In a town with no regular Indian food outlet this place hits a spot but I couldn't help but feel the good was prepared, stuffed in the freezer and zapped yo order. The filings were spicy and suitably Indian but the wraps of the garbanzo and samosa were rather too crunchy to be fresh.

Not gourmet then but given the setting a worthwhile stop for a snack, plus I like Kingfisher Lager. It's not the greatest Indian beer I've tasted but I like it. I really want to try the Indian food at Badboy Burrito but that will have to wait apparently. I think Key West can do better than this, when local taste buds get more adventurous.

You have to be able to figure out how to find this place which is half the adventure. Welcome to hotel life in Key West!

Go in through the Southard Street entrance and say hi to the monoglot Slav at the front desk and climb the Hillary Step up a vertical crevice to summit at the terrace.

An interesting find.
And no one notices you are there.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Good Walk, A Bad Ending

Stock Island was the place to walk as there was a bicycle road race blocking Highway One and I had no patience with the stationary traffic approaching the sole bridge into Key West. I turned south and stopped at Bernstein Park, where I found an abandoned bus, Academi - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
In god we trust read their license plate, which seems a rather odd depository for the trust for a bunch of mercenaries but we live in confusing times. The sign below struck a chord in the latent ex-farmer within. The image of bucolic family farming under a clear blue sky was slightly at odds with the reality of suburban light industry that characterizes this corner of Stock Island.
I tried to imagine how many different kinds of conniption fits the entitled millionaire snowbirds in neighboring Key West would have were a dredging company to casually park a few steel barges on the streets of Old Town. One can only assume the residents of the apartment complexes scattered around Stock Island understand the nature of reality and their place in it.
Somehow associating the unimaginative units of this complex with their location north of the a equator struck me as ironic in a light hearted sort of way. I've seen businesses boast of their relative proximity to the Equator as a selling point, but in this case central air seems a more desireable selling point than the bilious shade of paint failing to disguise the industrial design of Latitude 24. Landscaping anyone?
An eminently suitable sentiment expressed above a mud puddle in lieu of a sidewalk.
Returning to Bernstein Park Cheyenne and I found the national sport of Cuba underway to the sounds of sticks and balls whacking each other under the supervision of parents enjoying a weekend with their families. It occurred to me that but for my dog I myself would not be there either and at least Cheyenne most likely has missed her deadline to demand a college education from me, with all attendant expenses. Just as well as I have never framed a career for myself with such burdens in mind.
However dog ownership is not expense free as we discovered shortly after my return home with my hapless hound. She started trembling violently and hung her head in the style of an unmistakably ill dog. The veterinary hospital in Marathon a half hour away recommended we bring her in as soon as possible. She staggered downstairs and clambered into the car shrugging off any feeble attempt I made to help her. She curled up and trembled and panted putting the fear of disaster in our minds. Half way across the Seven Mile Bridge a sound like a blocked drain unclogging announced in no uncertain terms that Cheyenne was no longer holding down her breakfast. My wife, she of the sensitive stomach put her head out of the window like a dog seeking fresh air while I reached behind the passenger seat in an effort to reassure my unhappy hound. In the event I managed to grasp a half pound of warm wet lumpy dog breakfast now spread all over the sheet and towel that constitute Cheyenne's traveling bed. The three of us arrived in some disarray in Marathon, in our individual states of despair.
The vet was brisk and efficient and diagnosed a scorpion or wasp sting, possibly swallowed by my snuffling dog. She gave Cheyenne a giant syringe full of Benadryl which immediately started to calm her trembling. By the time we left my hand was clean and my dog was taking an interest in her surroundings while my wife the family treasurer was eighty nine dollars poorer while still trying to stifle her own reflex desire to throw up on smelling the aroma of vomit.
My wife traveled home with her head out the window while Cheyenne passed from this world to the Land of Nod where loud rolling snores are the passport to a happier state of mind. I kept my hands to myself and we got home in good order, more grateful than usual for the 24 hour emergency pet facility in Marathon. I was also grateful for a powerful hose and an empty washing machine which between them washed dog vomit out of our lives.
I am slightly annoyed at Stock Island especially as I was uncharacteristically fussy about keeping nosey Cheyenne out of puddles and crap as our feeble economy has made the streets less salubrious than ever with garbage liberally distributed and rotting alongside industrial machinery rusting and leaking fluids in the streets. And still Cheyenne got stung. But all is well that ends well and my dog gets better medical care than who knows how many billions of human beings.